Aug 13-21; 241 miles in 9 days! Oregon Done!

Tina turned on the afterburners and knocked out the last half of Oregon in 9 days -- averaging almost 27 miles per day, a new PR!

The first days out from Willamette Pass found her in the Three Sisters Wilderness --- now her favorite part of Oregon.   From there it was on to McKensie Pass and Santiam Pass skirting Mt Washington, and then on towards Mt Jefferson.

Near Mt Jefferson a wildfire closed the PCT ahead of Tina and forced her and the other hikers into a rough detour -- a detour which has since doubled in size.   Over the time Tina was passing through that area and after I spent four days helping hikers with the detours, working with Halfmile and the rangers to get updated maps, posting those up, etc etc.   That was a bunch of hassle but Tina is actually very lucky -- this year appears to be a record for fires on the PCT and had she been even a few days behind her current schedule she would've been forced into several other fire detours (see for the gory details).

But Tina got through all that, hiked around Mt Hood near the tree line, and then two days made it to the Columbia River and the Bridge of the Gods -- the boundary with Washington.

Most of the hikers took a zero there to rest and change over to wet and cold weather gear but Tina only rested for a half day and yesterday afternoon hiked up into the mountains on the Washington side of the river.   The going will now be a bit slower since Washington is quite a bit more vertical than Oregon, but barring misfortune, we appear to be on track to beat the typical arrival of the first major snow storm of the year.

Aug 8-12 -- Starting the Kessel Run

We're feeling some time pressure now trying to beat the onset of bad weather in Washington. Tina is doing more miles now each day and we've entered a phase of very few days off trail.   As a local put it, they have two seasons here -- August and Winter ... and we're trying to make the most of "August" !  :-}

Tina hiked the ~61 miles into Willamette Pass in a bit less than 2 1/2 days -- arriving there Friday morning.   We then packed up and moved my camp about 90 road miles north to Metolius, OR where I plan to stay until Tina reaches Washington.    After a day off yesterday to celebrate our birthdays and anniversary, she got back on the trail this morning (the 12th) and has now set up camp 28 trail miles north of that point (PCT mile 1942).   

The hope is that she'll reach Santiam Pass, 65.5 miles away now, around mid-day on Wednesday where I'll intercept her again.  We'll do the "town things" and then put her out again for a 95 mile stretch, then do another quick "catch and release" for a final 2 - 2.5 day push into Cascades Locks and the Washington border -- then we'll have to move camp again.

The hikers and Tina are now encountering stretches of snow -- enough of it to occasionally lose the trail and have to navigate back.   On the plus side, water is plentiful again.  

Thanks for all the support, David

Aug 5-7 -- To, around, and past Crater Lake

Tina reached the rim of Crater Lake on Monday afternoon and yesterday hiked along it for several hours before descending the north side of the mountain and heading for Mount Thielsen in the distance.    A pretty grand way to spend a day!

While Tina was doing her rim hike I shuttled hikers around and setup up a couple water caches to help cover them through the 27 mile stretch that starts with their rim walk.   I closed out the day with a few hours of combo feeding/watering magic as I waited for Tina on a seldom-used forest road. There are hikers everywhere!   

Today I returned Tina to that spot (mile 1853.09) and I'll pick her up again around noon on Friday once she's hiked the ~61 miles to Highway 58.    Then it's "move camp" day but then the following day we are taking off to spend the day in Bend as we celebrate both our birthdays and our 32nd anniversary!

Aug 1-4 -- 100 miles into Oregon nearing Crater Lake

In the lead picture above you see Train, in his 18th wedding dress of the trip(!),  standing with Chief and Cookie.  

Chief and Cookie are a hiking couple we started bumping into starting back at Siead Valley.  Both are WA-based forest fire fighters -- Chief is a crew boss in the Chelan Ranger District and Cookie drives an engine for the neighboring Leavenworth district.    It's interesting hearing their perspectives on the trail as they contemplate the various fire "traps" that the hikers must negotiate on the trail.    One such hazard that Tina spotted and they commented on is burning in a major fire right now (the descent to Belden, CA)!!

Meanwhile, Tina hikes north towards Crater Lake as I type.    She's a 100 miles into Oregon now.   Yesterday was a short day (12 miles) as planned since we needed to move my camp from Phoenix, OR up to Crescent, OR.    We had meant for today to be short too since we had a late start (2+ hours to drive back to the trail) but she's already 18 miles in.   

She'd wanted to stop earlier but then I got these messages from her about a half hour ago:

"Was thinking about stopping here for the night but just heard horrible roar not too far away.  No idea what it was! At 1798.36. 6:42 pm "  "Mosquitoes have been horrible whole time.   Not sure what to do.   Trail starts to climb soon.   Would like to stop before that!"   "Think I'll go on a little ways!"

Fun fun!   /David

July 27-31 Etna+ to Ashland, Oregon

Tina crossed into Oregon on Monday afternoon!   Tina and all the hikers are very happy to be done with their long California "residency" and to get on with the next phase of things!  Even though at the border there are still 970 miles, this feels like a real change to everyone.   Chatting with some hikers at a "magic camp" I'd setup on a logging road just a couple tenths north of the border and we decided it "feels like" the transition from Massachusetts to Vermont on the Appalachian Trail -- there's still a long ways to go, but still you you've graduated from something significant and feel something different.

In the days leading up to Tina's border crossing I've been having some old AT style classic "White Jeep" fun as I wrestled the big silver dually truck up all sorts of crazy logging roads leading up and out of the Klamath River Valley and into the mountains north of there.    Many of the roads had clearly seen no traffic this year yet (e.g., no ruts, just grass, having to rig up my ropes and tackle to pull fallen trees out of the way, etc) and some were completely impassable, but in the end I was able to meet up with Tina a couple times and do a bunch of magic for other hikers too .. e.g., Yard Sale, Banana Pants, Chief, Cookie, Running Wolf, Sister Sue, Thing One, Data, and a few others whose names escape me at the moment.   In the 20ish hours I was back on those roads I never saw another vehicle.   Great fun!  :)

For Tina, the climb out of Seiad Valley was just as hot and gruelling as had been advertised but the scenery has been good and the tiny cafe at Seiad Valley was awesome too.   Tina's reporting that in addition to the overall "look" of the trail changing now that the trees are smelling different as well.   That adds to the excitement too I think.

So Tina's off now hiking away from Ashland .. at mile 1731 as I type this, in fact.   Today she's doing 24 miles, tomorrow 25, and then just 12 since I need to pick her up at Highway 140 and get her help moving "camp" northward.   That'll probably keep her off trail until Sunday morning and then she'll be off again hiking another couple days to reach Crater Lake.    

ATB, David

July 21-26 I-5 to Etna +

After the two days spent moving camp, etc, Tina hiked west and up from I-5 into Castle Crags then into the Trinity Alps, Russian Wilderness, Marble Mountains, and other sub-mountain ranges of the Klamath Mountains.     She's camping tonight at mile 1627.8 - about 121 miles beyond I-5.

I was able to snag Tina off the trail last night and the night before and take her down to the most excellent town of Etna, California.   The town is now full of hikers and I also gave rides to or from the trail to many of them.   

After dropping Tina off at Etna Summit (10 miles way up a narrow winding mountain road from Etna town), I later took up 15 more hikers.    In the first batch we managed to stuff 11 hikers and all their gear into the truck!    That was such an occasion and accomplishment that we had to hold a big photo shoot at the drop off point where I took multiple pictures with each of 13 cameras!   (one hiker had two cameras).

The hiker Train I've mentioned and linked to earlier, had just changed to a new wedding dress (having crossed the 1600 mile mark) and all declared it to be his sexiest yet.    Before we left from the "Hiker Hut" in Etna it seemed almost every hiker had to be individually photographed with him.   :)

I next see Tina and the swarms of other hikers at Seiad Valley.   That'll be sometime on Saturday.


July 15-18: Burney Falls to I-5

Catching up again!  On July 15-18 Tina hiked the unbroken stretch between Burney Falls west to the PCT's first I-5 crossing near Castle Crags (miles ~1423-1506).   The 83 mile stretch included about 4 vertical miles of climbing and descending but no really long continuous climbs and so Tina found it to be fairly agreeable.  

On the other hand, she saw substantial bear sign and one night even had one sniffing around and "woofing" at her.   Other hikers have actually seen the bears but Tina hasn't -- although she wonders whether that's because her prescription sunglasses fell apart and she's been forced to wear regular sunglasses.   It could be she's stepping right over them!   ;-)

After that stretch it was time for me to move camp from Susanville, CA (which I miss greatly) up to Medford, OR (home of Harry & David).    That and a nice tour to scout the southern edge of Oregon and far northeastern corner of California meant two full days off trail but then Tina launched again on the 21st.   I'm supposed to meet her late tomorrow about 10 miles west of Etna, CA and take her down to Etna for resupply.   Etna is a small and cheerful town in the very pleasant Scott Valley surrounded by the Marble Mountains (which Tina is now walking over).

No bear issues have been reported to me along this stretch although Tina went into it with some poison oak issues where you don't want them and now I understand that towards the ends of recent days she has been suffering from substantial calf and then whole leg cramps on one side.    That's slowed her down just a bit but she's marching on.   :)

A note on the pics:  More "trail" pictures than usual just as a sampler and also showing how stretches of the trail are overgrown (thus making it hard to avoid the poison oak).


Into Volcano (and bear and snake) Land

Over the last four days Tina hiked 88 (21+21+30+16) miles up into Lassen Volcanic National Park, down to the microscopic town of Old Station, along the hot Hat Creek Rim, past the hamlet of Cassel with its scenic fish hatchery, and then into Burney Falls State Park.   After an evening of the usual town chores she got back out on the trail this morning and on an the 83 mile stretch to the trail's crossing if I-5.

It seems that every bit of ground between Lassen and Mount Shasta (often visible in the distance) is volcanic in origin and pretty recently so.    There is a great deal of exposed volcanic rock jumble and the trail itself is just a thin layer of fine volcanic dust over rock.    The dust kicks up and gets into everything and, as another girl hiker (not Tina!) noted, it "makes for some really interesting boogers" ;-)

But for all the heat and dust, the stretch had relatively little climbing (~7300) and most of that was done on her first day out.    In contrast, this next stretch averages 5000' *per* day of climbing and descending.

Tina saw a fair bit of wildlife on this stretch and had her first close bear encounter of this particular trip when she passed very close by a dense thicket with the air filled both with bear smell and very loud bear snoring.   She said the experience was near identical to one she had on the AT in 2010 as she passed the mouth of a cave in Connecticut (I think it was).   She thought about waking him/her but ultimately decided to leave that for the another day.  :)

She also came upon a big rattlesnake that was in the process of consuming a large rodent of some sort.   The head was already "down throat" and so Tina wasn't sure what it was but it was bigger than a rat.   It of course was very upset with Tina for poking around taking pictures and then we were upset after the fact realizing that she could've gotten a very fine video instead.   Oh well, next time.  

At another place she was walking along and there was a freshly dead rabbit right in the middle of the trail.   I guess they've got to die somewhere but that was a first.   In any case, Tina is seeing lots of bear sign.    Also, we're hearing about mountain lions but so far they have all turned into cows when people stick their head out of their tents or, as reported by one hiker, are named "Alex" and are vegetarian.   ;-)

Then near Cassel Tina spotted some gigantic insects (pictured above).    Anyway, as you can tell from that Tina is definitely traveling through wild country!   :)

All the best, David

p.s. The Hat Creek Radio Observatory is open to the public now and is staffed once again.   Do drop by if you are in the Lassen / Burney Falls / Shasta / Alturas territory.    Also, thanks again to their Colby Krabill who spent a couple hours with us last year and a few more hours with me yesterday over an extended breakfast & gossip session (and thanks too for picking up the tab!).  

North to Lassen!

Sorry about the delayed update folks!    Tina headed out this morning to hike into Lassen Volcanic National Park from Highway 36 outside of Chester, CA -- mile 1335.1 of the PCT.   

In the ~138 miles since my last report, things have started to settle out to usual trail patterns as Tina re-adapts and gets her trail legs, e.g., hiking 27 miles on Monday as she reached Chester.  

The trail and trail towns are filled with thru hikers now -- we've already been passed by the fastest ones -- the ones averaging in the high 30s or more per day -- and now we're seeing the ones that merely average 30 miles per day or the high 20s!    I gave an Austrian woman (Wasabi) about our age a ride into town from the trail and she reported that she'd hiked 34 miles that day and was averaging 30s.   She was positively bouncing with energy (but was very eager for me to get her somewhere that could supply her with a good cold beer ;-).

We've also met former AT trail friends and acquaintances like Frost (whom we met in late Vermont and then many times thereafter including summiting Katahdin on the same day as Tina) and Rest Stop, a triple crown hiker I fed at least a couple times on the Appalachian Trail and Tina enjoyed a long campfire conversation with.

Then there are the new hikers including the hilariously grand Train who is hiking each 100 miles of the PCT wearing a different wedding dress.    We're talking a tall, handlebar-mustached, bald fellow here .. but a natural comedian and funny guy.  When he leaves Chester he'll be hiking in dress #14.   Awesome! :)

Tina's back to having fun with wildlife too.   On her segment out of Sierra City she was walking along and heard a single rattle to her rear.   Of course she had to go find the source and found a very friendly rattlesnake that she then had to play with a bit to get a nice pose for the camera. 

The hummingbirds are back too.   As she was sitting once waiting for her water to be sterilized a hummingbird zoomed up to her deep red bandana and hovered to examine it.    Realizing that wasn't going to work it then zoomed up to her vividly purple shirt to give that a good look.   Failing there too it zoomed to a bit of orange on her walking sticks.    Tina could almost hear it harumph in disgust as it flew off realizing that it'd come up dry on all counts!    LOL

Hike On!   /David

Kevin's home and Tina's solo

Howdy folks!   I picked up Tina and Kevin outside Sierra City (mile 1197.5) on Thursday as planned. 

After a couple days of touring through Lassen Volcanic National Park, Burney Falls State Park, and Redwoods National Park, we put Kevin on a plane yesterday in San Francisco.    Kevin's now back home and Tina's already back on the trail and is about 10 miles north of Sierra City as I type.

Although Kevin's departure was earlier than we'd originally planned, it may have worked out for the best since he'd just developed knee pain in addition to the foot / instep pain he'd been suffering through and was still limping as he left for Virginia.    Tina's sure missing him on the trail, tho!   As Tina said as she departed today "hiking or biking: it's more fun when you get to share it with someone else!".

While maybe not as fun, the trail is still exciting from time to time.   Tina was able to call me late this afternoon from a rest stop and said that she'd just encountered her first rattlesnake of the season.  She heard just one rattle and that was behind her but of course Tina had to go back, find the snake, and play with it a bit.   She said it was "just" a western diamondback and promised that she'd be bringing in plenty pictures.   :)

I see Tina next 92 miles from her start today.

Happy July 4th!    /David

p.s. All the above parks are great but be sure to allocate most of a day's worth of hiking time to Lassen and Redwoods.